Managing Your Moods Can Benefit Your Health
Article Date: 02 Apr 2007 - 0:00 PDT
Learning how to deal with negative emotions and create positive ones may help you avoid many health problems.
Your emotions may originate in your brain, but they don't confine themselves to your mind. They express themselves in your body as well in your heartbeat, your respiratory rate, your blood pressure and many other physical functions.
Usually, strong emotions come and go, and normal physiological equilibrium is restored. But when emotional stressors endure for long periods of time, they can tip the balance of chemicals in brain and body and affect your health, often for the worse. Learning to recognize the physiological consequences of your emotions, and finding ways to establish emotional balance in your life, can help you avoid many health problems that may result from the way you react to the world around you. Consider susceptibility to the common cold, for example. A study published in the November/December 2006 issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine suggests emotional factors can affect resistance to cold and flu symptoms. Researchers interviewed 193 healthy volunteers daily for two weeks about the positive and negative emotions they had experienced each day, recording the results. They then exposed subjects to a cold or flu virus. Fewer positive-thinkers became infected, and positive thinkers who did become infected had less pronounced symptoms than subjects with more negative emotions. Only 28 percent of infected individuals who often reported positive emotions developed symptoms such as cough or congestion, compared to 41 percent of those who rarely reported positive emotions. "Positive emotions are thought to be beneficial to health," said Darin D. Dougherty, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital. "But when we experience negative emotions in excess, they can be physically and psychologically harmful. Chronic excess anger, for example, is linked to a higher risk of hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. For this reason, it's important to strive to stabilize your emotions. "The good news is that we can minimize health problems associated with emotional stressors by seeking out circumstances that make us feel positive, avoiding as much as possible situations that cause us distress, and by using stress reduction techniques to address the stresses that we can't control."
The mind/body interface Emotions are conscious mental states that arise spontaneously in reaction to situations (or memories of situations) in the environment, and usually manifest themselves in behavioral and physiological changes. Emotions have evolved to help us defend ourselves (anger), bond with others (joy and love), and avoid danger (fear), among other things, and are important for human survival. Responses to emotion-evoking events that involve conscious thought are generated within the cortex, a region of the brain responsible for reasoning, voluntary muscle movement, and memory. Even more rapid reactions occur without conscious control. This is the work of the limbic system, a network of brain regions involved in many primary emotions. It responds to emotional triggers by activating the autonomic nervous system, which controls the automatic functions of the body, such as circulation, digestion and respiration. The autonomic nervous system physically prepares the body for action when necessary, and helps restore a normal, relaxed state when the need for action passes. The limbic system generates physiological and behavioral responses to emotions that are stereotypic patterns displayed by every human being. These responses often involve outward manifestations of emotion, such as facial expressions and muscle tightening. The patterns such as the downcast facial expression of sadness are so universal we recognize them in others. But many physical and behavioral effects generated by the limbic system may be hidden from view inside our bodies. These include responses to emotion such as increases in heart rate and blood pressure, constriction of blood vessels, and gastrointestinal disturbances.
Physical fallout The intensity of emotional responses and their effects on the body can be influenced by a number of physiological factors, including patterns of brain activation, levels of hormones, levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, and patterns of autonomic nervous system activity. Research suggests that each emotion is associated with a characteristic set of physiological responses. Here are examples of common emotions, along with some observed physical consequences:
Anger: Increase in diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and cardiac output; changes in respiration; dilation of blood vessels (flushing); dilation of pupils and tearing of eyes; tensing of muscles; hyperactivity (pacing, tapping feet, etc.); focused vision; sweating; stimulation of upper gastrointestinal (GI) contractions and acid secretion; suppression of immune response.
作者:admin@医学,生命科学 2011-04-29 14:38